The downtime between seasons is always both good and bad.  Good that I let the bruises heal up and I get recharged for the next season.  Bad in that I have another week before things really start going again.  Even after 4 days of rest after Wednesday’s game, my right shoulder is still giving me some hassles.  I can tell when I am moving my arm in a clockwise fashion for my signals in lacrosse.

Speaking of lacrosse, I have lacrosse reffing to keep me moving and in shape before the season starts.  My shoulder won’t get much rest, but I will welcome the running and moving up and down the field.  I am glad that I have been keeping at least somewhat in shape.  After lacrosse is over, I am going back to weight training and cardio in preparation for the Tough Mudder in September.

It tough to talk about

When I started this blog, I wanted to keep close tabs on hockey.  With my knees in pain on a daily basis, especially after playing hockey, I wanted to be able to go back and remember everything.  After I started the gel injections I knew I would be able to keep playing for a lot longer than I anticipated.  Back in 2014, I lost interest in keeping track.  Blogging because of the fact that I saw the end coming was no longer a consideration.

I had an occasional drive to write again, but I just put it out of my mind.  To be honest, I really did miss it.  I know I won’t be able to catch up everything in one blog post, but the last couple years have been a really wild ride.

So many games that they all blend in with each other.
So many opportunities won and lost.
So many great teammates.
So many great teams.

I am starting out fresh this week after coming up short in two championship games.  Its a bitter pill to swallow, and I wonder just how many kicks at the can I am going to have at achieving a championship.  Then, I remember how many great teams I have been a part of.  I remember winning so many championships in the last 18 years that I have lost count of them.  I go back and look at the pictures and then realize that its not even a complete gallery.  I should be thankful for all the opportunities I have had instead of being upset at the ones I have just missed on.

I know, its rec league hockey.  Beer league hockey shouldn’t matter.  It should be having a good time with your teammates.  It should be having a beer after the game with your team after a very satisfying game.  I do have fun doing those things, but that competitive fire still burns inside me.  I can’t shake it, and when I come up short in a game, its upsets me.  It drives me to get better.

Writing in this blog about losing a championship game is tough.  Its tough to start talking about the end result.  I go through in my mind how great it would be to win the league championship with the team you have played with for 15-20 games.  Its a long season after all.  Then, when its over and you come up short, there is an empty feeling.  Its one that is going to stick with me for a couple days, or at least until the new season starts.

Worst of all, I don’t like to make excuses.  Could I have been a little better than I was?  Absolutely.  It never falls on my team to do better, but on me to do better.  The mistakes I make are amplified over the missteps of my team.  I guess that is what fuels me to play better.

I really cannot wait for the new season to start in a couple weeks.  Until then, lacrosse reffing and working out in preparation for the Tough Mudder in September will be my motivation.

So far….so good

My hockey season has been a solid one so far.  My monday team is 4-0 so far this season while my Wednesday team is 3-0 so far this season.  I really am satisfied with my performance, but there is room for improvement.  My angles have been off at times and I really need to drop my glove hand a bit so I can keep my arm against my body.  These lessons are better learned in these wins than in a key loss.

In addition to playing decently, I have been working out more on my off days and building up my cardio in anticipation for the Tough Mudder in September.  My cardio and stamina are getting better every week.  The only thing I really want to do is start lifting weights a bit more than I am now.

I have tried hooking up my GoPro Hero 3 in the net behind me and I was not very impressed with the picture.  I am going to try the suction cup mount on the glass behind me for my game tonight and see how it turns out.  What I have learned so far is that on all the goals that were scored, my angles were off a tad, which is what I am going to work on for my games this week.

This week my hockey teams will be tested.  So I should get some much better footage and things to work on this week from the camera than I have in the last week.

The net camera

I have always wanted to come up with a great method of video taping myself while goaltending.  With my new GoPro Hero 3, I intend to make a net camera out of it.  The toughest part is coming up with a mechanism so it doesn’t get destroyed in there.  I have read a few different articles and I have a plan.  Now I just need to put it all together.

I found a great video on YouTube that shows how people put them together.  This GoPro Net Camera may indeed be just what the doctor ordered.

Can’t wait to give this a go next week.

Back to work

After a great break from ice hockey and roller hockey, I got back into the swing of things.  The two week break from roller hockey was always a great time to rest and recouperate.  Ironically, this break mostly coincided with ice hockey as well which was really nice to boot.  I really wish I could say that I didn’t think of that finals loss in ice hockey, but I did.  I stewed about it a bit more than I would like to admit.  Still, that break allowed me to put it into perspective and get myself re-energized.

My roller team won their first two games, and one of them against a team we have never beat.  That really did help our confidence going into the second week which was a major key.  We experienced a slight letdown in the second game but we still found a way to come through with a victory.  A 2-0 start is definitely the start we were looking for.

As for ice hockey, we start on Wednesday and it may very well be the best roster that we have ever played with outside the charity events I have put on.  The big question is, will we gel and play well as a team.  The best roster doesn’t win championships.  Chemistry win championships.  It is championship or bust this summer in my eyes.

Understanding what its all about

I was never really a competitive person in my younger years.  Main reason why is that I really didn’t have much athletic ability.   So while I ran cross country, wrestled, and ran track in high school, I never really was a great athlete.  When I started playing hockey back in 1997 for the first time, little did I realize just how competitive I was.  I went from not being able to skate or play to where I am today.  Even now, I am not the best goalie, but I have made huge strides.  I understand that I will never be the best in the leagues I play in, but I am ok with it.  This is why I called this post, “Understanding what it’s all about” because playing hockey is about having fun.

In the past, I remember losing out in playoffs or losing a big game and being so upset with myself.  On the flip side, if we won a big game I was all pumped up.  These swings came every game, which really wasn’t healthy for me in the long term.  Back about 2 years ago, after I won my first ice hockey championship, I decided to not live on the edge like that anymore.  Today, it is harder to keep that promise to myself.  That competitive fire still has not left me.  I still have the desire to win.  If I don’t win my last game of the season, its a failure, or so I tell myself.  Why I keep going back to the watering hole (so to speak) is tough to answer.  Maybe I will never be rid of the competitive bug entirely.

So while I understand the meaning of rec league sports, and I enjoy playing, its tough to separate the two.  Today, a full week after our finals loss, I am still a little disappointed in the end result.  I still think that I could have played better which would have resulted in a win.  I still think that it was an opportunity lost.

I still have 2-3 weeks before the start of the new season.  Longest break ever.

So close

Its not every season that my MOS hockey team makes the finals.  Well, that isn’t really true because we have made the finals 3 out of the 4 seasons I have been with them.  The previous 2 times we won the title.  This year we came up a bit short in a 5-4 loss.  As normal, its always good to decompress a bit before I blog about the game because it was a hotly contested game for sure.  We had 3-1 and then 4-2 leads in this game, and with 10 minutes left in the 3rd, I thought we had this game in hand.  The opposing team had something to say about it though.  After we gave up a shorthanded 2 on 1 goal and then one of my own defensemen put the puck past me, it was tied up.  Then off a rebound that I probably should have had, we lost the game in the last minute.

The only complaint I had was the reffing, which was not good.  We spent probably 1/2 the 3rd period on the penalty kill, while the other team was penalized once.  I am not blaming the refs in the least for the loss.  I believe I could and should have played better than I did.  At the same time though, spending half the period in the box was a killer, and giving up a shorthanded goal off a really good passing play wasn’t helpful either.

Either way, I go into the summer thinking about another near miss.  I have 3 ice hockey championships, and I have had more than a few opportunities to win my final game only to come up a little short.

Oh so close once again…..

Afterwards, my team was very positive, even when I was feeling pretty down.  Now, 2 hours after the game is over, I am still a little upset but not like I was.  I really did play a solid game even though we didn’t come out on the winning end.  The rebound goal in the final minute was horrid, but I made a couple solid saves, like a diving glove save that I made in the 2nd period to keep the game tied.

For as much as I want to say that I was the weak link, I didn’t lose the game tonight.

This summer should be a good season.  We now get an opportunity to come back and make something happen.  I look forward to another opportunity to win a championship.

We are moving on!

I was nervous.  I has been a while since I was this nervous.  I went into the game focused and I didn’t want to make a mistake.  My defense played solid in front of me, and we won by a final of 7-2.

We took a quick 2-0 lead, but the other team had their chances.  They just missed capitalizing on a few chances on far side passes.  They finally connected on one to cut the lead to 1.  In the second period we took a 3-1 lead and then they got a deflection a couple minutes later to close the gap to 1.

Little did I know that was as close as they would get…..

Team MOS played solid the rest of the way.  Every shot I faced for the rest of the game were either in my glove or went off me and I covered.  My rebound control was much better than it has been in a long time.  Before I knew it, it was 6-2 and we were in firm control midway through the 3rd.

The opposing team’s best chance in the 3rd came on a play in front of the next.  The shot came in and hit me, and one of the opposing players slashed me in the face not once but twice.  The puck did make its way past me and into the back of the net, but the ref called it off.  One of the opposing players got chucked for abuse of officials and that was the end of the game for the most part.

Overall, I was pleased with the way I played, but I know I am going to have to play better.  The first place team won their game and they are going to bring the fire next week in the championship game.  If my team does the same thing next week, and I play solid, then I feel good about our chances.

I just keep remembering how I had a few chances to win my first ice hockey championship years ago, and I came up short for one reason or another.  When I joined team MOS, we won in the summer and then in the fall.  For 2 of the last 3 seasons, we have won our respective league championship.  I get another opportunity to do it again.

I can’t let this opportunity pass me by.

It all comes down to this

I really do enjoy playoff hockey.  After a long season, all my teams are either in playoff tournaments or have just completed them.  One of my teams is already out, while 3 others are in for their various playoff tournaments.  Back in the day, I was all about playoff hockey.  It was a make or break time for me, and I had a lot of success in playoffs as a result.  It wasn’t all me mind you.  Mainly because I had great performances but I had a share of bad ones as well.  You still remember the good times a lot more than the bad ones.  This is true of any team sport I have ever played.

Yet, this time around I am more nervous than anything else.  It has been a full year since I lifted a championship trophy.  My team isn’t an odds on favorite to win, and being 41 doesn’t quite make things easier for me.  While I am a decent goalie, I am by far not stellar, and there are many stellar goalies out there that can steal games better than I can.  Being a little nervous is a good thing for me to be honest.  It means I will be more attentive and focused on the puck.  It also means that I will be very focused on my mistakes if I make any.  Rebounding from those mistakes will be key.

Here is to hoping that everything falls into place for my first game tonight.  If I play solid tonight, then I should be mentally ready for Saturday.

Disappointing Finish

When it comes to playoffs, I have always made a note on my calendar to really put an emphasis on these games.  These are the games that I feel can make or break a team.  Winning playoff games can bring a team together.  Especially if it has been a tough year.  I also feel they make or break a goalie as well.  Key wins in playoff games can really do a lot for a goalie’s confidence.  My Tuesday night team played their first playoff game on Tuesday and we lost 4-1.  Two of those goals were empty netters, but the other two were far side shots.  One hit the far post and went in.  The other hit the far post and went top corner.  The story of the game wasn’t the two goals I let in, because they were very good shots.  The real story was our inability to score or the other goalie who seemed to stop everything that was shot in his direction.  The only goal we got was an easy tap in on the far side of the net after a bounce went our way.  Aside from that, every shot he faced, he stopped.

After that game was over, I was more than a little bummed out.  I knew deep down inside that we were a long shot to win a title this season, but I knew that we were better than that team.  We just couldn’t score more than 1 goal.  You have to score more than 1 to win a game in most circumstances.  Needless to say, bowing out in the first round is not a high note to end on.

I really have to pick up my game before my Thursday team plays their first playoff game in 2 weeks.